I hate reading exciting books-only to find out that the last chapter has been torn out. This is the last chapter and is intact. A writer of modern times observed: “the greatest part of mankind employ their first years to make their last miserable.” But, no we employed our last year (5th year) in the University to make it remarkable.
September 14, 2014 remains a day that won’t be forgotten in a hurry. It was the day we were crowned champions of the very prestigious klas ’14 tournament. That lone goal in the final was just enough to make the supposed impossible, possible. I remember vividly, the manner in which late injured substitute; Abidemi Adeagbo (a striker I could well rate above Arsenal’s Oliver Giroud) cut and drove in from the left flank into the 18-yard box to unleash the winning strike, which took everyone to the empyrean limit of excitement. The atmosphere was electrifying! At the blast of the final whistle, it was even more electrifying. Sky blue jerseys and tops filled the arena. What a day! What a moment of celebration! To tell the truth, I was afraid we were going to be disappointed. To think that the ‘jackometers’ left their books to come give their support. It would have been unfair to them if we had lost. But, most importantly, it would have been quite unfair to the entire team (including the team physiotherapist, media officer, team pastor and the faithful supporters). But, how did we get that far? At this point let me give some credit where is due and give props to you-know-who
- Babatunde Adegoke (GK): Great goalkeeper, although very playful or do I just say Unserious. He was between the sticks during the first game and I think one other game. He missed a couple of training sessions, but was influential in the success.
- Jamiu Ajao (GK): First choice keeper. He made so many great saves throughout the tournament. Especially in the matches against PMT and MEE. By merit, the goal keeper of the tournament. He kept a clean sheets in all matches
- Abiodun Obanla (LB/RB): He started in left back in the first game. He made vital interceptions and left everyone wondering how come a politician could play so well. He featured in about two games throughout the tournament because of his political assignments, which made him miss training on many occasions.
- James Azibolanari Ben (RB): Solid in defence and did very well when called up to feature in games. He did very well in the full right back position. He is a rock!
- Opeoluwa Dada(RB/CB): Tall and good in the air. He played the central defence role in the first game, but the coach had to deploy him to RB in subsequent games. Injury couldn’t allow him feature in majority of matches. His overall performance was good, except in the game against MEE where he kept slipping and could have cost us the game. So he was pulled off and didn’t feature in the final.
- Victor Akinsumade (RB): He featured in only three games. The last three games of the tournament. He strengthened the team and showed us he was truly a professional. I remember the head coach deployed him to Centre midfield against MEE to stop their attacking flow and did well in stopping MEE’s key player from operating. He was very key to our success.
- Festus Dare (LB): He joined training late. A natural midfielder, but sacrificed that to operate on left of defense throughout the tournament. He was a perfect replacement of Obanla. His movement upfront to support Abbey Lincoln was massive for the team. Strong and fast on the ball. He could well be the long awaited replacement of Evra at Manchester United.
- David Onwe (CB): I hope I have the right words to describe him. He was just too fantastic. He was always early to training. He was there for us all through the tournament. He played every minute of every game. Forgive me if I say we couldn’t have won it without him.
- Damola Fafure (CB): Nickname-Shizzule. Before the tournament, most people only saw him as a fine boy (if you know what I mean) and a graphics designer. CEO of Shizzule Graphics House (SGH). A very popular graphics artist in the University. I remember, once our opponents laughed when they saw him in defense, saying “he think sey na handbill we dey design for here?” he proved them wrong. He was solid in defense. What do you think of the back flip of the ball that was already behind him, with a striker charging him in the game against PMT? That was world class! Everyone was unhappy when the team physiotherapist declared him unfit for the final due to ankle injury. In the end, we won it for him.
- Femi Adeloye(DMF): He’s not just about his infectious laughter. He was our strength in the middle. He had a goal to his credit (A well taken shot from outside the 18-yard box). Except for the game against Computer Science, where he had to be rested, he played every other minute of the tournament. Salsa, as he is fondly called because of his amazing drumming talent, was just too hot for opponents to handle. His partnership with the team captain Olutoba Jetawo was made in heaven!
- Tolulope Richard: he attended a couple of training sessions, but didn’t feature in any game. Great defender, but wasn’t in the coach’s plan.
- Olutoba Jetawo (CMF/DMF): Captain Fantastic! Team captain, leader, project mate and good friend. I had always known him from first year in the University. Accurate passer of the ball. His overall performance was fantastic. He also had a couple of goals to his credit including the winner against CSP in the round of 8. Although, he later found the game difficult and was nowhere to be found. This forced the coach to pull him out for the first time in the tournament. For the rest of the tournament, he couldn’t play at his peak.
- Stephen Oladipo (LWF/RWF): Sobriquet-Yungstar love this guy (#no_homo). His commitment was top notch. I kept saying to myself “Yungstar mustn’t be letdown”. He was always the first to report to training. Even when his project supervisor gave him problems, he made it. A talented and well known singer on campus. He’s not all about the music afterall. He did well on the flanks. He operated both on the left and right flanks. Although, he rarely played full matches, but made great impacts. His commitment won him a first team place.
- Michael Balogun (RWF): Not tall, but dangerous on the ball. He started the tournament and showed much commitment, but wasn’t available for many matches due to injury. Then, just before the final, was fully fit again. He did very well in the last training session and that earned him a starting shirt in the final. Although, he was substituted for Gbenga Ogunwo (PAGO) as he couldn’t connect to the aerial balls and was isolated from the front line.
- Gbenga Ogunwo: to many fans, he was the man of the match in the final. He replaced Michael late on in the game and ran the architecture defence ragged. His pace was too much for them. And many questioned our decision not to start him. Great player, I must say. I always saw that in training. He can play as a striker up front or as a right wing forward.
- Abbey Lincoln: Lanky forward. He played virtually every game. Although not every minute. Coach Ebuka particularly saw something in him that a lot of people couldn’t see. He always played to instruction. Fast on the ball and a very good marker of opponents.
- Adeolu Batisan: I should spell his name as BATISAN. Wow! What a guy! He’s good with both feet. He’s humble, disciplined, committed and… I don’t have the right words. I interrupted his reading session of Atomic Spectroscopy (PHY 518) to invite him to the team. He’s just too good. How could we have won it without him? His partnership with Wilson and Bidemi was out of this world.
- Wilson Arege: Tall, strong and very good with the ball. Nobody does it better. He’s very good in the air. Although not a good goal scorer, yet was always a threat to any defense. That was why he got a kick on his chest in the 2nd round game against PMT. He had to be changed. The opponents clearly wanted him out. Kudos must go to the Coach whose decision to play him (a natural midfielder) up front as a striker was question, but in the end, everyone knew why.
- Abidemi Usman Adeagbo: “Bidex, I’m watching you!” those were my frequent words to him. Although very lazy off the pitch, but great on the field of play. His attitude towards training was poor. I warned him severally that there was no automatic shirt for anyone. I think he played only one full match, but was our best striker no doubt. He was often injured. But, that didn’t stop him from being the tournament’s highest goal scorer racking up a total of 6 goals. He scored in every group game. He came into the final injured. We had no choice and had to risk him because we trusted his abilities. Hence, his inclusion. He did it. That goal! Yes that goal that crowned us champions was off his boot.
When the tournament was announced, only few people showed interest in it. Understandably so, because playing football or winning a match was never our stuff. Right from 1st year, it had never gone well. Losing out in the first round had always been our modus operandi, but, Ebuka Gerard Paschal Nwadike made the difference. He started the campaign, gingering guys and assuring them that we could do it with focus, unity and determination. Need I tell you that Ebuka is also someone who detests failure in whatever quarter? A first-class by all standards; failure is never his stuff. I knew that already, so I didn’t hesitate to be his assistant and be a part of his success. When things were falling apart and complacency was setting in as a result of the victory against PMT in the round of 16, he gave a powerful speech which brought everyone back to his senses. He said and I’ll summarize: “There are certain things that will stop a man from achieving his dreams. Everyone needs to know his weakness. If yours is women, you should check it; if it’s alcohol, reduce it. And if someone is advising you and you choose not to listen, you’re only harming yourself. The problem with most of us is that we are proud”. He continued, “if we’re not careful, we will lose the game against CSP. We have to change our mentality and stop underrating anyone .” he then flashed our minds back to how we felt when we lost our first game of the tournament against AEE. In the end the match against CSP proved to be very difficult and had it not been for the speech we might have lost it. I won’t be able to go into details, but there was too much eloquence and seriousness in his voice for a moron to miss the hint.
Paul Anibaba started the whole thing. He bought us the form and followed up the schedules. He was there all through. He attended a couple of training sessions. He started the building of the team in our first year. Up Pepsi!
THE TEAM MEDIA OFFICER
Godwin Otah did very well with ensuring no one was left in oblivion of the happenings. His posts on social media made everyone a part of it.
THE TEAM PHYSIOTHERAPIST
Edidiong Ekpe did quite well for himself and the team. He was there all through the tournament and ensured every player was in good shape.
THE TEAM PASTOR
Victor Oviangbede was there all through, in body and in Spirit. The passion could be seen on his face all through. His prayers did it.
- Oyinkansola Onipede: She was always there. In the final, she was clad in a yello Arsenal away jersey
- Ranti Bademosi: Same as Oyin. I remember she once provided glucose for the team. Great personality
- Dina: He attended most training sessions and matches to cheer up the boys.
- Olusola Ewaregbemi: Painthinkin. Devoted supporter. I remember very well how he did the shouting during matches. He was the coach, the player, the referee,… he was everything.
- Johnson Gbenga: He also made himself available on many occasions: training and matches
- Omoboyeje Oyesanmi: a great tutor who made himself available during training despite his commitments at RCF. He played in one of the trainings and did quite well.
- Kehinde Bankole: What a passionate guy. Great supporter all through.
- Samuel Obadero: Great class representative. He covered for us and ensured we didn’t enter Dr. E.O Ogolo’s bad book. He also attended virtually every game.
Dr. Oluyamo is definitely not forgotten. He came to support us in the finals
In the end, the tournament taught me so much. It goes a long way in confirming that anyone could achieve anything in life with humility, hard work (we trained more than any other team), focus, dedication, determination and unity (when in group). We weren’t favorites, but with all those attributes, we made it. Of course by God’s grace.